Iran accuses US of using oil sanctions to gain market clout

Iranian oil minister said US set sanctions against Iran and Venezuela to open up market for American oil. (File/AFP)
Updated 08 July 2019

Iran accuses US of using oil sanctions to gain market clout

  • US is the world’s biggest oil producer
  • OPEC agreed to extend oil supply cuts to maintain price

TEHRAN: Iran’s oil minister has accused the United States of using sanctions to “shock” the global oil supply and gain market clout for its booming shale oil production.

Washington abandoned a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers last year and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic republic’s crucial oil sales as well as other parts of the economy.

“I think one of the reasons for sanctions against Iran and Venezuela is opening up the market for American oil sales,” Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said in an interview with state TV late Sunday, a transcript of which was provided by his ministry’s SHANA news agency.

“This much oil production needs a market and could not be compensated for with regular OPEC cuts, therefore America needed to shock the market to find a place for itself. Some sanctions are (imposed) so that Americans can keep producing and developing shale oil,” he added.

New technology that allows for extracting oil and gas from shale rock formations has led to a boom in oil production in the US in recent years.

Zanganeh said that according to US figures, shale oil’s breakeven cost can be as low as $40 per barrel.

Benchmark Brent crude was trading at around $64 dollars a barrel in London on Monday.

The US is currently the world’s biggest oil producer followed by Russia and Saudi Arabia, and is set to become a net exporter from 2021, according to the International Energy Agency.

The White House said in April that tightening sanctions on Iran will have “no material impact” on oil prices given the large supply of US oil on the global market.

OPEC, pressured by US output, abundant global crude supplies and weak oil demand growth, agreed last week to extend by nine months daily oil output cuts first announced in December aimed at supporting prices and soaking up excess supplies.

Iran, whose production has been severely hit by US sanctions, is exempt from the cuts agreement along with crisis-stricken Venezuela and Libya.

Battling what he called “the most severe organized sanctions in history,” Zanganeh last week vowed to keep selling oil via “unconventional means.”

Iran’s state TV recently aired a program showing an Iranian-flagged tanker under US sanctions that delivered one million barrels of crude oil to China, one of the remaining partners to the nuclear deal and which has rejected Washington’s efforts to cut Tehran’s oil exports to zero.


Saudi Aramco sets IPO share price between 30-32 riyals

Updated 2 min 25 sec ago

Saudi Aramco sets IPO share price between 30-32 riyals

  • Saudi Aramco intends to buy $1 billion worth of shares for employee

DUBAI: Saudi Aramco’s multibillion-dollar initial public offering (IPO), probably the biggest in history, shifted to full gear as its share price was announced and subscription to the world’s biggest oil company commenced on Sunday.

Saudi Aramco set an indicative share price between 30 and 32 riyals for the 1.5 percent of its oustanding shares – or about 3 billion shares of its 20 billion regular shares – that it would offer for the domestic part of its public offering. The blockbuster IPO could be worth least $24 billion, and values the state-owned oil giant at up to $1.71 trillion.

The offering – or book-building – period for institutional subscribers, which started today, closes on December 4 while the retail offering for individual investors will begin on November 21 and will end on November 28. Individual investors will subscribe based on a price of 32 riyals, the top end of the price range, the company noted in a document.

The final pricing for the Aramco shares would be announced on December 5, and Saudi Tadawul  – the Kingdom’s stock exchange – would make an announcement when initial trading day would be, the company added.

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For more of our coverage of the Aramco IPO, click here.

To view key Aramco IPO documents, click here.

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Samba Capital & Investment Management Company has been designated as issue manager while National Commercial Bank, Saudi British Bank, Samba Financial Group, Saudi Investment Bank, Alawwal Bank, Arab National Bank, Albilad Bank, Aljazira Bank, Riyad Bank, Al Rajhi Bank, Alinma Bank, Banque Saudi Fransi and Gulf International Bank were named as receiving banks.

If there are applications for more than the 0.5 percent on offer — amounting to 1 billion shares — allocations to private investors will be scaled back proportionate to demand; if there are fewer applications than the 0.5 percent when all maximum applications are satisfied, private investors can have the over-payment refunded either in cash via the receiving banks or in the form of extra shares in Aramco.

There is an incentive mechanism in the IPO whereby Saudi investors will receive a bonus one-for-ten allocation of shares, up to a maximum of 100 shares, if they do not sell shares in the market for a period of six months after dealings begin in December, at a date still to be determined.

Saudi Aramco also intends to buy $1 billion worth of shares for employees under a plan to incentivize executives and staff members alongside the IPO next month.

The plan — which was disclosed in the IPO prospectus — will involve Aramco buying the shares from the government and making them available for employees under special terms.